But Sharkie belongs with the group - he's younger than Landazuri and as good as any of them in performance.
As promised when I did an update on the "Next Five" currently "harmonically converged" at Tacoma, here's an update on the "Next Next Five" who are starting to bubble up in the low minors.
As we say: What's Your Vector, Victor? Very good for an 18-year-old, that's for sure. Is he "dominant" in the usual sense? Not with only 6.4 K/9. But look at how he never lets himself get hurt. Only 9 extra-base hits and only 6 walks in 8 starts. You can get a long way if you only yield one of each per start.
The worry with Victor is that he's short-and-stocky and, thus, may not have a lot of "upside" beyond what he's already got. But when he's shutting down guys two and three years older while just 18, he may not need much more upside.
What is Pike's peak? Well, he's a polished lefty teenager who started getting guys out as soon as he took off his high school graduation cap and gown, and he hasn't stopped.
Can he keep it up with that high walk rate? Not forever. He's made up for it with a super-low H/9 (6.4 career so far), but I think he's been a bit fortunate and I don't think that will last as he advances. So he'll need to work on the walks.
But for a kid jumping over both Pulaski and Everett, you'd expect some struggles. A 2.91 ERA and 1.25 WHIP isn't exactly "struggle."
The International Man of Mystery! A little bit less mysterious now. He made his U.S. debut with four innings with just one earned run, no walks and five strikeouts.
But the honeymoon is already over. Gohara got shelled in his next start: lasting just 1.2 IP and giving up 4 ER. Yet, even though he only registered five outs, two of them were strikeouts.
And -- cripes! -- he doesn't even turn 17 until July 31. And I seem to remember a kid named Taijuan Walker having a few rocky outings early on.
Speaking of Taijuan, the guy who drew a few Taijuan comparisons on 2012 draft day was Diaz. But his debut season in rookie league was marred by a boatload of walks (17 BB in 19.0 IP).
OK, but if you manage to overlook that supermassive black hole of despair ... he was pretty good!
Just 5.7 H/9, 0.9 HR/9 and 9.5 K/9.
And whatever lessons he was getting coached on in extended spring training seem to be working so far: just a single free pass in his first 11.0 IP, and no earned runs, and just two XBH (both doubles).
And here's your "Brandon Maurer" of the group: unheralded low-ish draft pick working his way up just by being good at what he does.
I was a bit concerned when he started the year at Clinton, but after just three games of 1.50 ERA and 10.5 K/9, the organization came to its senses and sent him to High Desert.
And -- if you take away the inflated Cal League home run rate -- he's been about as good as you could want. (For HD alone: 4.11 ERA | 1.26 WHIP | 8.7 H/9 | 1.0 HR/9 | 2.6 BB/9 | 8.7 K/9 )
And that's with 80% of his batters faced being older, and it includes one "mulligan" of a start in which he coughed up 8 ER.
Honorable Mention Sixth Man:
62.0 IP, 2 walks ... two!
Sharkie is a relentless machine genetically engineered to Not. Walk. Anyone. Nor give up much of anything that does damage. Only two HR also. Do you wish his K/9 was a bit higher? Sure, but it doesn't need to be if no one's getting on base.
Luiz Gohara and Rigoberto Garcia need to headline the "and 5 more" with Thyago Vieira (another Brasilian), Lars Huijer, and one of the other teens. Then Sharkie (and his 62.0 full-season innings of .90 WHIP) is in the "next" group, where he belongs.
A few ideas that I hold about our low-minors pitching:
- Vieira (brought up by bat) is a Campos type with regards to velocity - but not performance. Dude throws 91-96 or so, and seems like he should be able to dominate. He's on the WBC team for Brazil, so obviously they see the talent too. But he hasn't dominated. He couldn't dominate the VSL, but was brought over anyway as he's already been there for 2 years. Jose Campos even NOW is only as old as Vieira currently is in his first brush with stateside ball. IMO Thyago was brought state-side to get better coaching and try to harness what he throws. That makes him more a Maikel Cleto / Yoervis Medina type. Medina didn't even get to short-season ball til he was 21, but he threw hard and they figured SOME day he'd put it together. And he did. I think Vieira is likely to try the same path: start for a while to work on his mechanics and throw a lot of pitches, then convert to the pen. We'll see. The velocity is there, but he's not a pitcher. Not yet.
- Unsworth is trying for an Erasmo Ramirez path. Erasmo walked 5 guys the entire year as a 19 year old in the VSL, Unsworth is trying to one-up him by doing it in a FULL SEASON league. E-Ram walked 21 guys in 150+ innings in the MWL, while Sharkie has only walked 2 in 62. It's crazy. He has a similar problem that young Erasmo had, in that his velo is 87-89... but apparently now that's Dylan's two-seam fastball. His four seam and two seam come in around the same speed now, but move differently, and he prefers the two. So he has a running two-seam, a great changeup, an extremely repetitive delivery (even with its little flourishes, see here) great makeup... If he was a lefty he'd be unstoppable. It's hard to be an extreme-control righty throwing 88, but Sharkie is proving he needs to be reckoned with. He's still tinkering with other pitches (he doesn't throw a lot of curves, but he's trying it out) and improving his command with em. If he can drop a curve consistently... eesh. Absolutely keep an eye on him.